Why you should care
This satirical mess of creations might be just the comic relief we need.
Sean Tejaratchi, a graphic artist, was on Twitter for a few years, posting the occasional fake book or album cover. After seeing his work reposted without credit and seeing no way to stop it, he created the LiarTown USA blog, a collection of cleverly detailed (and time-stamped) visuals that spoof pop culture — which surprisingly passed for the real thing. We’re talking uproariously hilarious images of alternate facts or fake reality, like the faux book cover The Hardy Boys Lose Their Shit.
Fans of the blog, and newcomers to Tejaratchi’s work, can catch up with a near-complete collection of posts from the blog in a new book, LiarTown: The First Four Years 2013–2017, published in the fall of 2017 by Feral House. There are also plenty of new, smaller creations in the margins, some improved and expanded pieces, plus some artwork produced especially for the book. It’s a satirical mess of detailed re-creations of TV show ads, movie posters, magazine covers and historical visuals that epitomize the distastefulness and absurdity of our pop-culture-driven world. For example, a larger work on its own page entitled “Natural Fellows” shows a middle-aged man gesturing triumphantly at a modern-day Civil War Reenactment ceremony, sans clothes. Grown men from both armies seem to be confused and displeased with his naked exuberance. Penises make other appearances in the book — like on birds: proud, uncensored, occasionally erect … and human.
LiarTown is like a catalog of film props that skipped all the fuss of having ever been part of a film.
New readers might struggle over some of the vocabulary and how it’s applied with Tejaratchi’s precise wit, but unfamiliar words can often be pieced together with contextual clues and a basic understanding of phonics. Existing as a reconstituted or duplicate world maintained by a moderately benevolent, but not necessarily detail-oriented, God, LiarTown is like a catalog of film props that skipped all the fuss of having ever been part of a film. A world created and curated in Tejaratchi’s mind, but lovingly re-created for society’s perusal.
The book is a chaotic collection of collages and contrasts — a “baffling, occasionally disturbing world where wolves lurk inside kitchen appliances and powerful elk make unwanted sexual advances in corporate hallways,” Tejaratchi tells OZY. Equal parts Monty Python, The Stepford Wives and1984, it’s a bit like The Exorcist come to life.
Yet, in Tejaratchi’s world, “parents forgo traumatic exorcisms and choose to accept their possessed children, demons and all,” he says. It’s “where the enduring love for a simple gull reaches across decades and continents. Where you can make love to absolutely anything you want once you get to heaven.” A bit strange, yes. Over the top, certainly. But very intriguing nonetheless. The imagery grabs you by the ears and slams your head into the page, punishing with its depravity yet piquing your interest to turn the page and see what’s next.
Tejaratchi says he wants people to always reach for the top of their limits, to realize anything they can dream or imagine is possible. That’s what his book is about: endless possibilities and a reconfiguring of real life to what if? “If this book changes the life of even one child (or small adult), it will all have been worth it,” Tejaratchi says. “Beyond that, I suppose it would be nice if people kept in mind that everyone’s using and reusing the same goddamned set of marketing tricks.”